Diversity is in the data: How collecting diversity data can support your D&I initiatives

Why is diversity data important, how can you encourage employees to provide it and how should you use the data?

Diversity is in the data: How collecting diversity data can support your D&I initiatives

Why is diversity data important, how can you encourage employees to provide it and how should you use the data?


Meet the author

Nicole Griffith-Brown

Senior Consultant, Diversity & Inclusion Lead

Data is important, full stop, period. I think we can all recognise the importance it plays in helping organisations set goals, establish benchmarks, and identify trends and areas for improvement. I think many of us know that without having data to drive decisions, we can fumble around in the dark, making decisions or believing things based on what we feel or what we can see. Ultimately leading to ill-informed decisions and not having a clear, accurate picture of the current state. The same applies to diversity and inclusion (D&I) teams when they aim to collect data to support their initiatives. However, it can be difficult to know what data to collect, how to collect the data and then effectively analyse it so it can drive decision making. 

As Head of D&I, I’ve been working with my team to ensure a data-driven approach is taken, however, as always it is easier said than done. I’ll walk you through the different types of data (not an exhaustive list) that can be collected by D&I teams, how it can be used and how to encourage employees to provide the data needed. 

What type of data can be collected?

The most common type of data collected is diversity data. This can include capturing information on gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability and/or educational history. And will provide organisations with an insight into the makeup of their company. 

It can be difficult to encourage employees to complete their diversity data or to select ‘prefer not to say.’ I have highlighted four main ways organisations can encourage employees to complete this information. 

Four ways to encourage employees to provide diversity data:

  1. Clearly communicate to employees why the data is being collected 
  2. Explain how their diversity data will be used 
  3. Identify key benefits and reasons for collecting the data and provide transparency with all employees
  4. Highlight to employees that the collection of diversity data is optional and there is a ‘prefer not to say’ option.

Recognise the ask to collect diversity data may make individuals feel uncomfortable and combat this directly

Address the elephant in the room. Collecting diversity data can make individuals feel uncomfortable, especially if this is a new initiative that is being rolled out. The Clarasys D&I team have focused on:

  • Educating senior stakeholders on the importance of diversity data and creating advocates for the change
  • Providing resources and FAQs to help people understand how and why the data is being collected 
  • Creating anonymous forms and drop-in sessions for individuals to ask questions if they’re feeling hesitant or want more information.

Be transparent and set tangible next steps

It’s important that when the data is collected and analysed the findings are shared with everybody. This will again help employees understand how the data is being used and creates transparency. The data may not show that the organisation is where it wants it to be but transparency along with tangible next steps will show this is a priority and that there’s a desire for improvement. 

I’ve collected the diversity data, now what?

You’ve collected the data and now the hard work truly begins. It’s imperative that organisations conduct a deep, thorough analysis of the data. And with anything diversity and inclusion related, it will take time. 

As you go through this journey, remember it is a continuous activity that requires long-term analysis. It’s important organisations agree on a regular cadence of when the analysis will be conducted. Whether this is monthly, quarterly or even annually it needs to be regular enough to represent how your organisation changes and develops over time.

How can the diversity data be used?

  • Identify trends

The data can be used for four key areas; retention, promotion, pay and organisational representation. For example, if underrepresented groups have disproportionate levels of attrition, or if there is a gender pay gap. It is also important to view the data from different angles and understand if there are any trends with intersectional employees. For example, if there is a female BAME pay gap. 

  • Monitor equal opportunities

Use the data to understand if there’s a balanced spread of opportunities across all diversity groups. Identify if there are low levels of representation in decision making positions or within leadership teams. This will help D&I teams understand where the most underrepresented individuals are positioned with the organisation. 

  • Take action

Once the data has been collected and analysed, create tangible next steps that can be actioned by the relevant individuals within the organisation. It is important that ownership and responsibility of the actions are given to the relevant individuals and not actioned solely by the D&I team. To truly embed diversity and inclusion initiatives, it is everybody’s responsibility to uphold and deliver on them.   

At Clarasys, the D&I team has implemented all of the above and we are happy to have a conversation to support an organisation on this journey. Please contact us for more information. 

For more diversity and inclusion insights, check out our D&I thinking category.

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